The four members of METALLICA spoke to HuffPost Canada about the progress of the songwriting sessions for the long-awaited follow-up to the band's 2008 album, "Death Magnetic", tentatively due in 2015.
"Writing music is somewhat important to us," METALLICA frontman James Hetfield said. "We focus. Focus."
"That's the plan," added guitarist Kirk Hammett. "We'll start writing the album. We were supposed to start last year [laughs] but there you have it; we'll see how it goes."
"We are looking forward to making a record," drummer Lars Ulrich said.
"It's not even penciled anymore," said bassist Robert Trujillo. "We're going to have to do this."
"Up at HQ in northern California, we've already done, what, two or three dances there," said Ulrich. "We've got a lot of the basic stuff waded through. When we write, we have a very peculiar writing process; we don't sit down and go, 'Okay, A to E to let's come up with something.' Ninety-five percent of our records come from jams — literally pre-concert jams, tuning room jams, all this kind of stuff — so everything we do is always recorded," he explains.
"The biggest time-consuming element of us making a record is listening to all the stuff that we've recorded. So there's five years worth of stuff. We've listened to about 80 percent of it. We've done two or three dances maybe, collectively six weeks to just listen through the ideas and kind of grade them."
"Process of elimination, too, at the same time," Trujillo interjected.
Continued Ulrich: "Grade them. Five stars, four stars, three stars, and then we take all the five stars bits and try to make songs out of them."
"But during that time we're having a blast, really a lot of fun doing it," added Trujillo, "so if we can continue with that spirit, we're gonna have a good time making this record."
Ulrich acknowledged in a new interview with U.K.'s Kerrang! magazine that the band's next studio album is unlikely to arrive before 2015 at the earliest. The drummer explained: "Obviously, there are a lot of people asking where the next record is. We're going to make another record, but like I said before, we don't really feel this kind of… what's the word? I guess 'responsibility' is probably the right word. We don't feel this inherent responsibility to just churn out records whenever people want them. [Adopts a sarcastic voice] 'I'm sorry! Let me slap myself on the wrists and go make a record for you!' We'll get 'round to it again."
Asked about a possible release date for METALLICA's next CD, Ulrich replied: "Actually, we know the date… no, we don't! If I was betting on this, I would say 2015 — that's where my money is. So if you think of the actual age of this planet, if it's been 75 billion years since dinosaurs walked the Earth or whatever, then one year is basically a blink of an eye, right?"
Ulrich also spoke about METALLICA's mindset going into the songwriting phase for the band's next album. He explained: "The only thing I can tell you is that there seems to be a consensus in the band that [2008's] 'Death Magnetic' was a really good record that we're proud of, that had good legs on it — meaning that it still sounds really rocking five years later. And I can tell you that with most of the previous METALLICA records, I found any faults, I had any issues with them way, way sooner than five years. So the stuff that we've been jamming on is certainly not a million miles removed from where we left off from 'Death Magnetic'. But two years from now, when I sit and talk to you about the new record, it'll probably be a different story from the six-year-old looking for the ice cream shop."
According to Lars, there is no shortage of ideas for METALLICA's next CD, with the guys having met up twice in the last six months to cook up some tasty riffs in the studio.
"We have more riffs than we know what to do with," Ulrich said. "We talked about setting up a special riff thing, where maybe we could share some of these riffs with others, like an eBay kind of thing for leftover riffs. Some of them are actually quite decent, but we won't be able to use all of them."